Intro

This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. I am slowly blogging through Steele's Answers, posting each Q & A in the order in which they appear (whether I personally agree with the answer or not). But, these posts come from several other sources, as well. I often post particularly eloquent passages from Dr. Steele's other writings. Occasionally I post "guest blogs" from other holiness writers.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Pentecostal Attestation

Pentecost is the final, indispensable and standing attestation of the Lordship of Jesus Christ and of the truth of all His declarations. In other words, the gift of the Paraclete, not merely as a solitary event, but as a perpetual dispensation of grace and power, is absolutely necessary to the perfection of the Christian evidences. The resurrection of Christ, according to Paul in I Cor. xv. and all Christian apologists, is the fundamental proof of His divine mission. It is my purpose to show that this greatest miracle, taken by itself as an isolated event, without the standing and perpetual attestation of the Pentecostal dispensation as a predicted sequence, would have been insufficient for the establishment of Christianity against the universal opposition of Jews and Gentiles, including ten imperial edicts of persecution and extermination beginning with Nero, A. D. 64, and ending with Diocletian, A. D. 313. Much less would it have been sufficient to perpetuate the gospel eighteen hundred years as a system dominating the world's best thought and keeping in advance of the progress of the ages. We mean to say that the empty tomb without the tongues of fire descending from generation to generation on Spirit-baptized believers would have been inadequate to the permanent enthronement of Christianity over mankind. If "another Comforter" had not succeeded Christ, His mission, with all His miracles, including His victory over the tomb, would have been a failure, and His sermons and parables would long since have been forgotten. This idea is beautifully expressed in the first verse and the last of President W. F. Warren's hymn.

"I worship Thee, O Holy Ghost,
I love to worship Thee;
My risen Lord for aye were lost
But for Thy company.

"I worship Thee, O Holy Ghost,
I love to worship Thee;
With Thee each day is Pentecost,
Each night nativity."

The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 9.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Does the Carnal Nature Return?

QUESTION: Does the carnal nature, destroyed by entire sanctification, return and become the impulse to the sinful act when a person entirely sanctified commits sin?

ANSWER: No. The sinful act defiles the nature. This raises the question how a perfectly holy being can sin. How did sin get into a holy universe. This is an unanswerable question which has vexed all the philosophy of all generations. There are no causes of sin, and no good reason, only conditions privative, such as defect of knowledge in Adam and in all children; want of acquaintance with law and its penalty, with the added fact that no free agent is ever created or born fully equipped for liberty by experience and good habits. And lastly, the holiest person on the earth is exposed to the irruption of evil spirits. These considerations do not necessitate sin, but they render it highly probable. Father E. T. Taylor, "the old man eloquent" in the Boston Seaman's Bethel, used to speak of Adam as a "big baby toddling forth amid the pitfalls of Satan." This is only a concrete way of saying with Bishop Butler's Analogy, that the Creator could not make a moral agent with good moral habits. The puzzle of the sin of an entirely sanctified person, though of the same kind as that of the sin of the holy angels, may be somewhat greater becasue of his former experience of the sorrow of sinning.

Steele's Answers pp. 212, 213.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

From What Do Sins Originate?

QUESTION: From what cause does the act of sin in man originate?

ANSWER: The free will is the first cause of its own moral acts, just as God is the first cause of all created being. A first cause is unthinkable; we cannot mentally construe either the absolute, like a first cause, or the infinite, like a succession of causes running back without end. Man is the creator of his own character and destiny. The most important part of God's universe is left for free agents to create — moral character. When it is completed at the close of each one's probation, whether the character is good or bad, God. cannot arbitrarily interpose to change it. As the free agent has fixed it so it must remain eternally.

Steele's Answers pp. 212.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

On Speaking in Tongues

QUESTION: How shall we treat those good people who profess to have the gift of tongues?

ANSWER: With Christian kindness, telling them that tongues are not an infallible sign of love, and much less of' perfect love, I Cor. 13:1, and that they "will cease" (ver. 8), but that "love never faileth." Tongues were the first gift on the day of Pentecost, but they did not continue in the primitive church so long as the other miraculous gifts. If the purpose of this gift was to facilitate the spread of this gospel, it would be advisable to use it now on the unsaved immigrants who make our great cities Babels. While Paul says, "Forbid not to speak with tongues," he, in the same chapter strongly discourages it when he writes, "I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue."

Steele's Answers pp. 211, 212.

Were All the Disciples Backsliders?

QUESTION: A prominent evangelist teaches that the disciples were all backsliders before Pentecost and had to be reclaimed. He used John 21 to prove his point, especially the conversation between Jesus and Peter. Is he not mistaken?

ANSWER: Yes, he is egregiously mistaken. The recurrence of seven of the apostles to their former occupation waiting calmly for some sign from the Master which should determine their future was not indicative of backsliding, but it was in accord with the intimation in Luke 22:36 that they must now be self-supporting preachers as Paul was an example in Acts 18:3, II Thess. 3:8. It is very evident that the thrice-repeated question to Simon Peter had reference, not to the other apostles, but to him alone, and that it related to his three denials of Christ in the court of the high priest's house.

Steele's Answers pp. 210, 211.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

On Ecclesiastes 7:20

QUESTION: Explain Eccl. 7:20, "For there is not a just man upon the earth that doeth good and sinneth not."

ANSWER: This is a defective translation for "may not sin." There is no just man who is impeccable, or infallible. The mistake arises from the fact that in the Hebrew language there is no potential mood, but the future tense of the indicative is used instead. When the Hebrew wished to say, "It may rain to-day," he had to say "It will rain to-day." Thus the hearer or reader was left in doubt whether a certainty or uncertainty is intended; and he must use his wits to determine by studying the context. Thus in Solomon's dedicatory paper in I Kings 8:46, II Chron. 6:36, it is evident that the Hebrew future means "may sin." It is thus translated in the Vulgate, the Syriac and Arabic, in the London and Paris Polyglots, in Castalid's, Osiander's and Francis Junius's versions, and in the Antwerp interlineal translations and in the marginal note in the Miniature Quarto of the Baxters, high Calvinists though they are. If Solomon had been dedicating an insane hospital and had said: "If any man becomes insane, for there is no man who will not become insane, let him come here and be cured," most people would say that the "will not" here means "may not." It is thus translated in Gen. 3:2, 27:25, Job 13:13, 14:6, in our English Bible. This text correctly translated gives no support to the pernicious doctrine of the necessity of sin in the believer, or in any man on the earth, I am suspicious that this error is perpetuated by translators by reason of the general dislike of holiness as possible in human experience this side of the grave. It is natural to the heart of man to desire a Scriptural excuse for sin. It is a nice pillow on which the carnal mind may slumber.

Steele's Answers pp. 209, 210.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Two Meanings of "Sanctify"

QUESTION: I have just listened to a preacher who said there are two words in Greek for sanctify, one signifying to set apart, and the other to make holy. Which of these is used in John 17:19, "For their sakes I sanctify myself that they themselves may be sanctified in truth." (R.V.)

ANSWER: There are not two words, but one word with two meanings, both of which are in this text: "I set apart of consecrate myself to the salvation of believers in order that they may be truly sanctified, cleansed from all defilement." This is the meaning of "in truth," as also in Matt. 22:16, Col. 1:6, II John 1:1, III John 1. In Luke 17:33 Christ uses "life" with two meanings. In II Cor. 5:21, "sin" is used first as guilt and secondarily as a sin-offering. This use of a word with two meanings was regarded by Hebrew writers as rhetorical elegance. Christ had no need to be truly sanctified because he had no sin. The depraved tendencies of believers need entire sanctification.

Steele's Answers pp. 208, 209.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Text Against Life Insurance?

QUESTION: Does not this text rebuke life insurance: "Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let thy widows trust in me." (Jer. 49:11.)

ANSWER: It does not teach that we should neglect the helpless. God cares for them through human agency. He awakens the altruistic spirit of compassion and charity in Christians who found asylums for orphans and homes for widows. He also gives most people sense enough to save part of their earnings and make deposits in the savings bank or some reliable life insurance company, instead of living from hand to mouth in utter disregard for the future. The Bible nowhere teaches improvidence, though infidels say it does, and therefore its teachings are impracticable and irrational.

Steele's Answers pp. 208.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Does God Override Human Freedom in Answer to Prayer?

QUESTION: Since the Question Box denies conversion by a temporary suspension of freedom, how do you explain John 15:7, "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you?"

ANSWER: At first sight this looks like a reckless promise, but a closer study discovers safeguards, one of which is "unto you," implying the gift of grace, strength and all the fruit of the Spirit to those who do the asking. Another safeguard is in "abide in me," implying such a union with Christ as to ask for nothing unwise, and not in accord with his will expressed in "my words abide in you." Now we know that he said, "Ye will not come to me that ye may have life," and we know that Christ will not do so foolish a thing as to dehumanize a saloon-keeper and turn him into a machine and thrust him neck and heels into his kingdom against his will, though all the saints on earth are asking to save him. What is salvation but the awakening of love, free and spontaneous in a wicked heart? Can love be forced? What crude theological ideas some people have! They think it is the office of the Holy Spirit to take every stubborn sinner by the coat collar and drag him to Christ in answer to prayer. This is inherited from predestinarianism.

Steele's Answers pp. 207, 208.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Pew Rent

QUESTION: Is it right to patronize or worship in churches which require payment for the sittings?

ANSWER: It is not the way to reach and save the unchurched masses. It gives them an excuse for nonattendance. It keeps alive the idea that the church is a sort of club in which none but "our set" are wanted; and gives scope for class distinctions, the rich in the best pews and the poor in the less desirable. If pews are given to the very poor, they very naturally shrink from sitting in the seat of the paupers. Hence it is exceedingly difficult to keep a pewed church full of hearers. These are very grave objections which are not obviated by the arguments in favor of this practice such as that it is easier to finance, family sittings are more favorable to the attendance and good behavior of the children, a place for one's hymnal, psalter and Bible. I cannot say that it is not right to attend such a church, for in many cases it is the only open communion church in that place. This is the writer's situation. The most I can say is that it is not the best way to promote the kingdom of Christ. The Protestant Episcopal Church is worthy of commendation for bravely attempting to make all their churches free. I hope their great success will be complete.

Steele's Answers pp. 206, 207.